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New vacancy: Inclusive Growth Research Associate at SPERI

An exciting opportunity has arisen for a new Research Associate to join SPERI and work on our programme of research on inclusive growth.

Inclusive Growth Research Associate

SPERI’s research programme on inclusive growth aims to consider the multilevel dimensions of the inclusive growth agenda. Many so-called ‘left behind’ regions in advanced economies share similar economic and social characteristics and in recent years these shared ‘geographies of discontent’ have significantly contributed to political shocks which have had ramifications nationally and internationally. There is a significant opportunity for SPERI to help to develop a new research agenda that explores the links between the supra-national, national and sub-national effects of non-inclusive growth. Moreover, much of the academic and public policy discussion of inclusive growth has so far come from a social policy perspective.

We are seeking a new Research Associate with doctoral experience (or equivalent experience) of working on these kinds of issues. They will assist SPERI to establish a new political economy-focused research agenda on inclusive growth that better reflects the nature of the challenge at hand if growth in the UK and around the world is to be rendered more inclusive. The proposed research would also link to SPERI’s ongoing research focus on industrial strategy, the relationship between central and local policymakers and the devolution of economic policymaking powers.

The Research Associate will work closely with the Director and Deputy Director of SPERI and the existing SPERI team, to collaboratively design a research programme and will be expected to research and write academic papers, but also policy briefings, viewpoint pieces and blogs.

This is a full-time fixed-term post for 8 months at Grade 7 (£30,688 – £38,833 per annum)

Closing date for applications: 1st March 2018

For informal enquiries about this job, contact: Craig Berry, SPERI’s Deputy Director on craig.berry@sheffield.ac.uk

Applications are made through the University of Sheffield’s online jobs portal

19 February 2018 by
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New SPERI Paper: Revisiting the developmental state

We are pleased to publish a new SPERI paper edited by Matt Bishop and Tony Payne on ‘Revisiting the developmental state’.

Originally published as a blog series late last year, the paper brings together a number of eminent experts on the subject: Kunal Sen, Shaun Breslin, Ziya Öniş, Valbona Muzaka, David Booth, Courtney Lindsay and Henry Wai-chung Yeung.

The notion of a ‘developmental state’ is a key concept in the political economy of development. It refers, broadly speaking, to a type of state which intervenes purposefully to distort markets in the pursuit of economic upgrading and productive transformation. This is not anti-capitalist, but neither is it about free markets. It is rather about shaping markets to achieve developmental ends, something that typified the experience of the so-called ‘Asian Tigers’ in the 1970s. The simultaneous failure of neoliberal free market fundamentalism to deliver rising living standards in the West and the contrasting success of high levels of intervention in China, especially, have reignited interest in the concept.

Yet a range of unanswered questions persist, and the authors whose work is showcased in the new SPERI paper offer pithy, incisive accounts of key points of controversy and debate. These include: the relationship between the state and market; whether authoritarianism is a key characteristic of such states; the extent to which developmentalism is still plausible under contemporary forms of globalisation; the kinds of strategies that different interventionist states deploy; why some of these countries have been more successful than others; and, crucially, the dragon in the room that is China and its developmentalist implications for the global economy.

Matt Bishop is Senior Lecturer in International Politics at the University of Sheffield and Tony Payne is Professorial Fellow at SPERI. Together they co-lead SPERI’s research programme on ‘Development and the Governance of a Globalising Political Economy’.

Download SPERI Paper No. 43: Revisiting the developmental state

7 February 2018 by
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New FEPS-SPERI policy brief: Turning ‘intergenerational fairness’ into progressive policy

A new FEPS-SPERI policy brief by Kate Alexander Shaw, ‘Turning ‘intergenerational fairness’ into progressive policy‘ is published today.

In the new brief Kate Alexander Shaw sets out a series of recommendations for how the ‘intergenerational fairness’ can be turned into progressive policies. The brief’s central argument is that progressives need to develop an analysis that connects a structural understanding of the problem with a set of policies that target the underlying causes of generational inequality, not just its most recent symptoms. This means getting to grips with the possibilities for redistribution between age groups, and the ways in which intergenerational inequalities relate to other kinds of inequality.

Drawing on analysis of the emerging politics of intergenerational fairness in five European nations: the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Denmark and Romania, this brief makes recommendations about how progressives should approach the politics of intergenerational fairness, before highlighting six policy areas in which they might look for progressive solutions. The six areas are 1) Employment rights and labour market protections 2) Taxation of asset wealth, including residential property 3) Improving private rented housing 4) Electoral reform 5) Pension reform and 6 ) Environmental policy.

Download the new policy brief here

The brief is the second publication in our research project on the Political Economy of Young People in Europe, in collaboration with the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), which is investigating the challenges facing young people in Europe’s post-crisis economies, and the emergent politics of intergenerational fairness.

The first publication ‘Baby Boomers versus Millennials: rhetorical conflicts and interest-construction in the new politics of intergenerational fairness‘ is available to download here.

30 January 2018 by
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Reimagining tax through speculative design – new SPERI project

SPERI is embarking on a new collaborative project which will explore the role of communications between tax authorities and taxpayers in increasing ‘tax morale’. The project will be led by Dr Liam Stanley (SPERI) in collaboration with Dr Rebecca Bramall at the University of the Arts London (UAL).

Tax is the lifeblood of public life. It funds public services and contributes to the formation of citizen identities and solidarities. While public opinion continues to support the payment of taxes, this generally positive tax morale is threatened by an economic narrative which holds that tax is a burden. There is therefore vital work to be done to understand how key social actors and institutions can promote positive attitudes towards taxation and champion the role of tax in society.

A key element of the UK government’s approach to communicating with citizens about tax has been the introduction in 2014 of the ‘Annual Tax Summary’. Personalised statements explaining how the recipient’s tax contributed to public spending are now sent to millions of taxpayers in the UK each year. Research by Liam Stanley and Todd Hartman has demonstrated that although the scheme aims to improve transparency, the Annual Tax Summary may in fact decrease taxpayers’ tax morale – that is, their motivation and willingness to pay tax. This research was first published by SPERI in 2015 in a British Political Economy Brief on this subject.

Building on Stanley and Hartman’s research, this new project, funded by the University of Sheffield ESRC Impact Accelerator Account, will explore the role of communications between tax authorities and taxpayers in increasing tax morale. Using a methodology informed by speculative design, the project will generate a series of alternative tax summaries that posit different ways of valuing taxpayers and the contribution that tax makes to society.

A workshop in Spring 2018 will bring together researchers, policymakers, campaigners and creative communications experts to explore how tax authorities can communicate differently with taxpayers. Drawing on the workshop’s outcomes, information designers will create a series of alternative tax statements. The results will be made publicly available online, and will be exhibited in September 2018 as part of the London Design Festival.

25 January 2018 by
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Three new SPERI-IPPR literature reviews published

The Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) and the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) have today published its final series of literature reviews, compiled to inform IPPR’s Commission on Economic Justice.

The reviews have been authored by SPERI research assistant Sean McDaniel and deputy director Craig Berry. The three published today focus on:

As well as reviewing the key academic and non-academic literatures, in each review McDaniel and Berry also use the evidence assembled to outline what a more progressive policy agenda in each of these areas could look like.

The reviews are available to download at: http://speri.dept.shef.ac.uk/publications/reports/

The IPPR Commission on Economic Justice is a landmark initiative to rethink economic policy for post-Brexit Britain. Launched in November 2016, the Commission brings together leading figures from across society – from business and trade unions, civil society organisations and academia – to examine the challenges facing the UK economy and make practical recommendations for reform.

Three reviews – on work, labour markets and welfare, the company and alternative forms of ownership and digital platforms and competition policy – were published in November 2017 and are available here.

The Commission is undertaking a wide-ranging programme of research and policy consultation on issues including industrial strategy, macroeconomic policy, taxation, work and labour markets, wealth and ownership, sub-national economic policy and technological change. Through a major programme of communications, events and stakeholder engagement it aims to contribute to both public debate and public policy on the economy.

The Commission’s Interim Report, Time for Change: A New Vision for the British Economy, was published in September 2017. Its Final Report will be published in autumn 2018. IPPR commissioned SPERI to conduct a series of literature reviews to inform the Final Report.

 

22 January 2018 by
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Baby Boomers versus Millennials | New paper on the politics of intergenerational fairness

A new paper by Kate Alexander Shaw, published today, ‘Baby Boomers versus Millennials: rhetorical conflicts and interest-construction in the new politics of intergenerational fairnessanalyses the current debate in the UK around intergenerational fairness.

The paper is part of our research project on the Political Economy of Young People in Europe, in collaboration with the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), which is investigating the challenges facing young people in Europe’s post-crisis economies, and the emergent politics of intergenerational fairness.

The paper argues that the intergenerational fairness debate has been almost entirely a post-crisis phenomenon in the UK, rising quickly up the agenda since 2010. The headline coherence of “intergenerational fairness” as a concept belies some important disagreements about its meaning and policy implications. Some strands of the debate are broadly progressive; others are more connected to the politics of fiscal conservatism. Kate’s paper looks at how the concept cuts across right-left politics in the UK and considers how representations of intergenerational fairness can be either solidaristic or conflictual, and the choice between these two frames has important implications for policy. The debate around intergenerational fairness, accelerated by the recent upsurge in youth electoral turnout, also raises difficult questions about the relative priority that should be attached to age and class in Britain’s political economy.

Download the new paper

Baby Boomers versus Millennials: rhetorical conflicts and interest-construction in the new politics of intergenerational fairness

The last several years have seen an upswell of interest in the notion of intergenerational fairness, centred on concerns that today’s young people cannot hope to achieve the same prosperity as older generations. In the British case, we have seen the emergence of a new discourse in which prosperous, asset-rich ‘Baby Boomers’ are contrasted with debt-laden, precariously housed and insecurely employed ‘Millennials’. The post-crisis economic context, characterised by austerity and slow growth, has only sharpened concerns about the prospects of young people, while discourses that present the interests of different generations as being in conflict are making age-cohort a critical new political cleavage. Rhetoric is not simply descriptive but constitutive of this new politics, reconstructing perceived interests and so opening up new possibilities for action.

The paper maps the emergence of the intergenerational fairness agenda in the UK, and considers its political implications. On the one hand, the construction of a common identifier based on age could provide a spur to political mobilization by young people, and a framework for reexamining the proper allocation of social entitlements. On the other hand, the politics of intergenerational fairness has the potential to be divisive and zero-sum, undermining rather than underpinning attempts to renew the social compact between generations. Headline consistency in the language of intergenerational fairness may belie important divergences in actors’ understandings of its meaning and policy implications. The recent increase in youth engagement with electoral politics may in fact raise difficult questions about the extent to which generational inequalities should be afforded political priority over intra-generational cleavages such as class.

Read three new response pieces to the paper:
Responding to the needs of Millennials: framing intergenerational fairness within an intersectional understanding of solidarity By Mafalda Dâmaso, PhD Goldsmiths, University of London, cultural consultant and member of the FEPS Young Academics Network

The change in the perception of change: the key to overturn a dark present By João Albuquerque, President of the Young European Socialists

Long Term Youth Unemployment: Characteristics and Policy responses By Massimilano Mascherini Senior research manager in the Eurofund Social Policies unit

18 January 2018 by
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New SPERI research brief on Frankfurt, financial services and Brexit

When the UK leaves the European Single Market, financial firms domiciled in the City of London will lose their ‘passporting rights’. This means that many UK-based banks and other financial institutions will need to relocate a significant portion of their operations, capital and staff to alternative financial centres inside the EU. Frankfurt has consistently been identified as one of the potential beneficiaries of this process, alongside Dublin, Paris and Luxembourg.

A new SPERI policy briefing published today presents new findings that show how actors within Frankfurt have responded to the Brexit vote.

In November 2017 Dr Scott Lavery and Davide Schmid conducted extensive interviews with a broad range of elite stakeholders based within Frankfurt’s financial sector. They interviewed Frankfurt-based trade associations, international banks, regional banks, regulatory bodies, marketing agencies, international financial institutions and representatives of the Hesse region.

The new SPERI brief shows how influential political and financial organisations in Frankfurt are working together to promote the city to financial service firms. Key stakeholders in Frankfurt acknowledge that the City of London will remain Europe’s primary financial hub after Brexit –  but they expect between 5,000 – 10,000 jobs to move to Frankfurt over the next four years.

Frankfurt has ‘played to its strengths’ by focussing on the political and economic stability of Germany and the competence of its regulatory authorities. The brief outlines how Frankfurt has not taken the more ‘aggressive’ approach pursued by other rival EU financial centres, most notably Paris and Luxembourg.

Scott and Davide have written about their research findings in their new blog ‘Will Frankfurt become Europe’s leading financial centre after Brexit?’

Download the full report here.

16 January 2018 by
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New study identifies innovative approaches to tackle forced labour in global supply chains

A major new report published today proposes new policy interventions to tackle previously unaddressed root causes of exploitative work conditions.

Confronting Root Causes: Forced Labour in Global Supply Chains’, is published by researchers from Beyond Trafficking and Slavery, an organisation that studies labour exploitation, in partnership with SPERI. Dr Genevieve LeBaron, leader of SPERI’s Labour and Work in the Global Political Economy research programme, is the lead author of the report.

It presents new evidence based on empirical and high-level analysis of current global initiatives to tackle labour exploitation in global supply chains. New analysis has found that current global labour initiatives are failing to address the growing problem of forced labour in global supply chains.

Dr Genevieve LeBaron: “There is a disconnect between the root causes of severe labour exploitation and the solutions that government and industry are advocating. Most ‘solutions’ to forced labour in global supply chains fail to tackle underlying problems and practices that create a business demand for forced labour, like low prices, irresponsible sourcing practices, outsourcing, and the uneven distribution of value along supply chains.  Meaningful solutions to forced labour in global supply chains need to confront these root causes.’

Dr Neil Howard, a co-author of the report “Globalisation’s promise was to pull people out of poverty by integrating them into the world market and offering them decent work. It hasn’t delivered. Today, hundreds of millions of people are unemployed; more than 75% of the global workforce is on temporary or informal contracts; the ranks of the working poor are expanding daily; the provision of social and labour protection has been reduced; migrant rights are under threat; and exploitative as well as forced labour appear endemic in a number of industries.”

The report’s recommendations include:

  • Ensure that anti-slavery initiatives tackle the root causes of forced labour in global supply chains.
  • Give workers and workers’ organisations a central and meaningful role in the design and enforcement of supply chain governance initiatives, modelled after successful worker-driven social responsibility initiatives.
  • Expand the budget and remit of labour inspectorates, so that governments have capacity to enforce the laws on their books.
  • Ensure that government anti-slavery policies like the UK Modern Slavery Act is not undermined by policy in other areas, such as immigration policy or labour market regulation.

The new 12-part report provides policymakers, journalists, scholars and activists with a roadmap for understanding the political economy of forced labour in today’s ‘global value chain (GVC) world’. The report presents analysis of four ‘supply side’ dynamics that contribute to creating a global pool of workers vulnerable to exploitation: poverty, discrimination, absent labour protections and restrictive migration regimes. And on the ‘demand side’, the report analyses the concentration of corporate power, outsourcing, irresponsible sourcing practices and governance gaps.

Download the report here.

10 January 2018 by
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Young workers’ perspectives on the economy, crisis, the labour market and politics | New SPERI report published today

With its tenth anniversary approaching, the 2008 global financial crisis has had significant ramifications in the UK that are still being felt today. One of the groups that has been most affected are young people, in part because they will live with the aftermath of the crisis for longest, and in part because of the crisis’ specific impact on their socio-economic circumstances.

Young people also appear to be on the front line of structural change within the economy, evidenced by a stratification within the labour market between secure, high-skilled employment (in industries such as finance, business services and advanced manufacturing) and precarious, low-skilled employment (in industries such as retail and care). With growing flexibilization, the ‘gig economy’ and rapidly advancing automation, the world of work is changing, and as such a new generation of young workers will be subject to labour market conditions unlike those that past generations have experienced.

A new SPERI report by Craig Berry and Sean McDaniel presents new research on the perspectives of young people themselves on this transformation. Utilising focus group research, this new SPERI British Political Economy Brief considers whether young people are content to work within ‘the new normal’, and whether they are willing to challenge prevailing economic circumstances in order to refashion the labour market.

The research presented here is part of a larger study funded by Unions21 in conjunction with Slater and Gordon. The focus here is on attitudes to the economy, work and politics, but the larger project focuses also on attitudes to trade unionism and industrial relations. A final report for the project will be published in early 2018.

The full publication can be downloaded here.

8 January 2018 by
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Congratulations to Adam Barber

We are delighted to report that SPERI doctoral researcher, Adam Barber, passed his PhD viva on 1 December 2017.  His thesis was entitled: ‘Have banks in the UK learned lessons from the 2008 financial crisis?’

His analysis suggested that, following the crisis, different banks have taken different paths.  While some institutions have become more risk-averse and display signs of lesson-learning, others have shown little evidence of change.  Adam used notions of agency, path dependency and structural competitive pressures to explain these inter-bank variations of behaviour.

The examiners of the thesis were Professor Mick Moran, emeritus professor of government at the University of Manchester, as external and Professor Andrew Baker, SPERI and Department of Politics, University of Sheffield, as internal.

Adam has since been appointed to the position of Senior Research Associate at the new Future Economies Research Centre at Manchester Metropolitan University.  He takes up his position on 1 February 2018 and will hold the post for four years.

3 January 2018 by
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Local authority pension fund investment since the financial crisis | New SPERI report

A new report published today by SPERI presents evidence and analysis on asset allocations by local authority pension funds in the UK. In this new SPERI British Political Economy Brief, Craig Berry and Adam Barber chart the changes in investment patterns by local authority pension funds since the 2007/08 financial crisis, and the extent of moves towards ‘alternative’ investments such as infrastructure.

The report demonstrates that since the financial crisis local authority pension funds have de-equitised to some extent, but not moved into bonds, and appear more willing to invest in alternative assets. The largest funds in particular have demonstrated an interest in infrastructure investments. The analysis in this new report will shortly be supplemented by a further SPERI Brief which will assess the strategic decision-making of local authority pension funds.

The full publication can be downloaded here. Through its series of British Political Economy Briefs, SPERI aims to draw upon the expertise of its academic researchers to influence the debate in the UK on sustainable economic recovery.

12 December 2017 by
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New SPERI paper on the abolition of Britain’s capital controls

We are pleased to publish a new SPERI Paper by Jack Copley on the role of competition and ideas in Britain’s abolition of capital controls which took place between 1977-9.

In his paper Jack seek to challenge this conventional wisdom regarding the role of competition and ideas in capital control liberalisation through a close historical examination of Britain’s abolition of exchange controls. These controls were scrapped in four stages, involving both the Thatcher administration and its Labour predecessor over the years 1977-9. The paper argues that rather than this deregulatory policy being chiefly motivated by a desire to promote the City of London’s global prospects or by an ideological commitment to the free market, the explanation for this liberalisation must be sought in the stagflation crisis that confronted policy-makers during this time

Jack Copley is a doctoral researcher and teacher in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick. His research explores the British state’s role in propelling financialisation through archival analysis of key financial de-and re-regulations. He has recently published in New Political Economy and Capital and Class

Download SPERI Paper No. 42: The role of competition and ideas in Britain’s abolition of capital controls, 1977-9.

Jack has also written about the abolition of Britain’s capital controls in a new blog for SPERI which you can read here.

7 December 2017 by
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Craig Berry and Arianna Giovannini’s book on Northern economic development

SPERI is delighted to report that Developing England’s North: The Political Economy of the Northern Powerhouse, edited by our deputy director Craig Berry and honorary research fellow (and senior lecturer at De Montfort University) Arianna Giovannini, has been published by Palgrave.

This collection explores the politics of local economic development in Northern England. It starts from the premise that socio-economic conditions in the North – and its future prospects – have become central to national debates in the UK. The status of Northern regions and their local economies is intimately associated with efforts to ‘rebalance’ the economy away from the South East, London and the finance sector in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

The contributors to this volume (which arises from a 2015 workshop funded by the White Rose Consortium) focus in particular on the coalition and Conservative governments’ ‘Northern Powerhouse’ agenda. They also analyse associated efforts to devolve power to local authorities across England, which promise to bring both greater prosperity and autonomy to the deindustrialized North. Several chapters critically interrogate these initiatives, and their ambitions, by placing them within their wider historical, geographical, institutional and ideological contexts. As such, the book seek to locate Northern England within a broader understanding of the political dimension of economic development, and outline a series of ideas for enhancing the North’s prospects.

Contributors to the book include Ron Martin and Ben Gardiner (University of Cambridge), James Wilsdon (University of Sheffield), Kieron Flanagan (University of Manchester), Simon Lee (University of Hull), Georgina Blakeley (Open University) and Brendan Evans (University of Huddersfield), Martin Jones and David Beel (University of Staffordshire), and Nick Gray (Northumbria University) and Lee Pugalis (University of Technology, Sydney). The full table of contents is below.

Craig’s contribution to the book focuses on industrial policy and deindustrialisation across the North, and Arianna’s contribution focuses on the uneven geography of city deals in Yorkshire. They also jointly author a concluding chapter which outlines both a forward research agenda, and a set of policy imperatives.

‘The Northern Powerhouse has been surrounded by hype and rhetoric.  Here is the absolutely vital corrective: a collection of chapters exploring the historical, territorial and structural reality of the political economy of the North.  Packed with evidence, assembled with exemplary scholarship.’

Professor Michael Moran, Alliance Business School, University of Manchester

‘At last, a serious academic contribution to the Northern Powerhouse debate that takes on the agglomeraniacs and Treasury tinkerers both empirically and philosophically. Despite offering a withering critique of progress to date, this book is far from pessimistic and instead represents a clarion call for a progressive, pan-Northern politics putting the North of England once again at the vanguard of economic and democratic reinvention.’

Ed Cox, Director, IPPR North

‘This book offers new insights into the political economy of the North of England. The topics covered are wide-ranging – from science policy to economic development – but the common theme is the policy agendas needed to address the North-South divide (and why existing approaches have failed). Berry and Giovannini’s important book is required reading for academics and policy-makers interested in this agenda.’

Dr Neil Lee, Department of Geography, London School of Economics

‘This outstanding collection shines a much needed light on the political economy of Northern England.  The contributors delve into economic policy making, city-regional governance and the inequalities entailed by the current UK approach to regionalism and devolution. It performs an exacting multi-dimensional critique, from which academics, policy makers and activists will learn many valuable lessons’.

Professor Jonathan Davies, Director, Centre for Urban Research on Austerity, De Montford University

Visit https://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9783319625591 to order a copy.

Full table of contents:

1) Introduction: powerhouse politics and economic development in the North (Craig Berry and Arianna Giovannini)

Part 1: Economic policy and the political economy of Northern development

2) Reviving the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and spatially rebalancing the British economy: the scale of the challenge (Ron Martin and Ben Gardiner)

3) Law, legislation and rent-seeking: the role of the Treasury-led developmental state in the competitive advantage of the Southern Powerhouse (Simon Lee)

4) ‘D is for Dangerous’: devolution and the ongoing decline of manufacturing in Northern England (Craig Berry)

5) Powerhouse of innovation? Prospects and pitfalls of a regional turn in UK science, technology and innovation policy (Kieron Flanagan and James Wilsdon)

Part 2: Place, city-regional governance and local politics

6) The Northern Powerhouse meets the Cities and Local Growth agenda: local economic policy-making and agglomeration in practice (Nick Gray, Lee Pugalis and Danny Dickinson)

7) The uneven governance of devolution deals in Yorkshire: opportunities, challenges and local (di)visions (Arianna Giovannini)

8) Leading the way? The relationship between ‘Devo-Manc’, Combined Authorities and the Northern Powerhouse (Brendan Evans and Georgina Blakeley)

9) From problems in the North to the problematic North: Northern devolution through the lens of history (Daryl Martin, Alex Schafran and Zac Taylor)

Part 3: Inequality and austerity in the Northern Powerhouse agenda

10) Regionalisation and civil society in times of austerity: the cases of Manchester and Sheffield (Martin Jones, David Beel and Ian Rees Jones)

11) Civic financialisation: financing the Northern Powerhouse (Kevin Muldoon-Smith and Paul Greenhalgh)

12) The recomposition of the tax system: exacerbating uneven development through the Northern Powerhouse agenda (Daniel Bailey)

 *

 13) Conclusion: a better place (Craig Berry and Arianna Giovannini)

4 December 2017 by
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New book by Valbona Muzaka published in SPERI Palgrave series

We are delighted to announce the publication of a further volume in the SPERI series ‘Building a Sustainable Political Economy: SPERI Research and Policy’ published by Palgrave Macmillan.

The author is Valbona Muzaka, Honorary Research Fellow of SPERI and Senior Lecturer in International Political Economy at King’s College, London. The book is entitled: Food, Health and the Knowledge Economy: The State and Intellectual Property in India and Brazil.

The book opens a window into how two ambitious countries – India and Brazil – are seeking to become knowledge powers in the 21st century. As the knowledge economy became the preferred way of conceptualising the economy and its future direction in the more economically-advanced countries, our search for understanding also followed the same direction. This generated a body of work that has neglected countries that, like India and Brazil, are attempting to make the leap into knowledge economies.

Valbona Muzaka explores these motivations and the ways in which they have inspired a number of institutional reforms in India and Brazil. She offers an investigation of the role of the state in shaping the respective intellectual property systems pertaining to the pharmaceutical and agro-biotechnology sectors and the multiple social conflicts that have unfolded as a result.

“With dexterity, Valbona Muzakaa’s new book combines an evaluation of key changes in the nature of capitalism and their implications for developing countries, such as India and Brazil. The trend towards stronger intellectual property protection organizes the narrative, focusing in particular on the increased social conflicts accompanying the strengthening of intellectual property in the health and food sectors, and the role of the state in them. Well informed and carefully researched, this book unveils a key and complex challenge faced by developing countries in their efforts to catch up and succeed in positively integrating in the world economy.”

Eduardo Albuquerque, Universidade Federal de Minais Gerais, Brazil.

The book can be bought in hard copy or as an e-book here.

28 November 2017 by
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SPERI Industrial Strategy Commissioners react to government white paper

The government’s white paper on Industrial Strategy was published today (27 November 2017). Earlier this month the Industrial Strategy Commission, an independent joint initiative by Policy@Manchester at The University of Manchester and SPERI published its Final Report.

Dr Craig Berry, Deputy Director of SPERI, and Professor Richard Jones, SPERI Associate Fellow and Professor of Physics, served as members of the Commission and have given their reaction to the white paper.

Dr Craig Berry, Deputy Director of the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute

Craig Berry“This is the strategy Messrs Cameron, Osborne, Clegg and Cable should have devised seven and a half years ago. Nevertheless, we are where we are, Brexit and all, and the May government has done as good a job as we might have hoped for in terms of in terms of identifying the UK’s economic problems, and offering something of a plan for addressing them.

“There is much to recommend in the white paper. The emphasis on place is very welcome, particularly the recognition of the distinctive value of local economies, and the bespoke nature of the support required from the centre. The emphasis on infrastructure is a hugely important step forward too, as is the decision to focus on a series of ‘grand challenges’ with the potential to transform living standards and well-being as well as the economy.

“On the other hand, there is little new money. BEIS has been among the departments hardest hit by the Whitehall austerity drive, and any industrial strategy will underwhelm while this continues. Some of the new public expenditure being trailed is rather microscopic compared to the size of the challenge, and the plan for unlocking private investment is under-cooked and, frankly, pitiful.

“And the big question: will the strategy stick? A genuinely long-term strategy must be overseen at the heart of government. This means the Treasury, not BEIS. But the two departments seem as far apart as ever. Furthermore, the proposed advisory council falls short of the OBR-style monitoring body required to embed industrial strategy into the routine agendas of future governments. After the hype fades, we will need to normalise industrial strategy.”

Read Craig’s comments in the Guardian and Financial Times

The Guardian: Business leaders urge government to create productivity watchdog – Larry Elliott

Financial Times: Four key challenges raised by the UK’s new industrial strategy – Peggy Hollinger

The Guardian: Industrial strategy is welcome, but good intentions are never enough – Nils Pratley

Professor Richard Jones, Professor of Physics, SPERI Associate Fellow and former Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation

Richard Jones“The Industrial Strategy white paper is founded on some good analysis of the problems we currently face – particularly in our productivity problem and our gross regional economic inequalities, it signals some good intentions, and leaves quite a few loose ends.

“The commitment to increase the overall R&D intensity of the economy is most welcome, and it’s good to see this aspiration being supported by a plan to develop a more detailed roadmap, in (very necessary) collaboration with the private sector. The Grand Challenges – AI and Data, Future Mobility, Clean Growth and Ageing Society – are well chosen, and there is a welcome recognition of the importance of government in driving the demand for innovation, through schemes such as the Small Business Research Initiative.

“We now await the details of how schemes such as the SBRI and the Industrial Challenge Strategy Fund are aligned with the challenges, and how the aspiration to use Government procurement to drive innovation more effectively will be realised in practise.

It’s also good to see a candid recognition of the gross regional disparities in economic performance across the UK. Rebalancing infrastructure investments across the country will be an important part of addressing these. It’s good to see the commitment to an improved toolkit for assessing infrastructure investments that takes more account of their potential to make substantial improvements to the productivity of regions.

“This would be a big improvement on current practice, which tends to reinforce inequality, and would reflect the recommendations of the Industrial Strategy Commission. The £115m “Strength in Places Fund” will be helpful in addressing the gross imbalances in R&D investment across the country, building on the emerging clusters that the Science and Innovation Audits revealed (for example Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District, which is highlighted in a case study). But the scale of this fund is not yet equal to the problem and more systemic interventions will be needed.

“What we now need to see is commitment across government to develop and embed the direction set out in this white paper, scaling up some of the interventions so that they are equal to the size of the challenges to be overcome, to give the country the long-term direction it needs at this very uncertain time.”

Find out more about the work of the Commission at industrialstrategycommission.org.uk

The Commission’s Final Report makes a series of recommendations for UK policymakers. It calls for industrial strategy to be rethought as a broad, long-term and non-partisan commitment to strategic management of the economy, and says the new industrial strategy must be an ambitious long-term plan with a positive vision for the UK.

Download the full Final Report
Download the Executive Summary

27 November 2017 by
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The Coming Crisis – New SPERI book edited by Colin Hay and Tom Hunt published

SPERI is delighted to announce the publication of The Coming Crisis, edited by our Director Colin Hay and Policy Research Officer Tom Hunt.

Nearly ten years on from the global financial crisis of 2008, The Coming Crisis seeks to provide a timely warning as to the dangers still present and building in the global economic system.  The new book, published by Palgrave Macmilan, draws on SPERI’s research on the political economy of growth, stagnation, austerity and crisis, placing each in the context of the wider environment crisis.

Fourteen expert political economists each offer their distinct perspectives on the symptoms of the present moment – reflecting and speculating on the extent to which the world economy has become more dangerous and less stable since 2008. The book begins with an introductory essay by Colin Hay and Tom Hunt which reflects on the current sources of disequilibrium and instability and makes the case for a form of prospective precautionary thinking to anticipate and protect ourselves against a coming crisis. Far from being pessimistic, they argue that analysing the sources of future crises should lead us to be more optimistic that dangerous pathologies can be dealt with before they lead to fully fledged crises.

The book explores multiple dimensions of the coming crisis through considering issues such as the post-2008 financial markets, secular stagnation, global labour markets trends, the European migrant crisis, the Eurozone, China’s development and the ecological crisis.

Contributors to the book include Helen Thompson (University of Cambridge), Peter Dauvergne (University of British Columbia), Jacqueline Best (University of Ottawa) Jeremy Green (University of Cambridge), Richard Murphy (City University) and Nicola Phillips (Kings College London). The book also includes contributions from within SPERI’s research team with chapters from Martin Craig, Tony Payne, Genevieve LeBaron, Scott Lavery, Andrew Baker, Matt Bishop, Jonathan Perraton and Andrew Gamble. The book originated in a 2016 SPERI blog series on the coming crisis.

‘The Coming Crisis puts all the bad news in one highly illuminating book, showing just how many challenges we face simultaneously in economics and politics. This is a well-written, highly accessible book with an important warning message that we neglect at our peril.’
—Vivien A. Schmidt, Boston University

 

‘Our outdated economic models didn’t foresee the last crisis. The social, political and environmental questions The Coming Crisis raises help us understand the next shock and try to avoid it if we can.’
—Gabriela Ramos, OECD Chief of Staff and Sherpa

 

‘This book explores facet after facet of the coming crisis of the democratic-capitalist social order – a world in which the exception is becoming the rule. Policy remedies are explored, but without papering over the widening gap between the politically necessary and the politically possible.’
—Wolfgang Streeck, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies

 

‘We confront a decade of disruption. Here is a bold and comprehensive mapping of the challenges, risks – and as importantly, some solutions. Read it!’
—Will Hutton, The Observer and Chair of the Steering Group of the Big Innovation Centre

The book is the latest in SPERI’s book series with Palgrave Macmillan ‘Building a Sustainable Political Economy: SPERI Research and Policy’.
Visit http://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9783319638133 for more details about the book, and to order a copy.

20 November 2017 by
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SPERI hosts Finance Curse Workshop with the Tax Justice Network and Copenhagen Business School

On Thursday 16-17 November SPERI will host a workshop at Halifax Hall, Sheffield, on the phenomenon and concept of the ‘finance curse’.

The workshop has been organised in collaboration with the Tax Justice Network (TJN), the leading global tax campaign organisation, and the ENLIGHTEN Horizon 2020 programme at the Copenhagen Business School.

The workshop has been organised by Andrew Baker (SPERI, University of Sheffield) and John Christensen and Nick Shaxson of the TJN. The central contention behind the ‘finance curse’ is that the financial sector can become too big and too active, generating complex, dynamic and inter-twined economic, social, political and geographical harms. The workshop will examine evidence in relation to six finance curse symptoms: Dutch Disease; Brain Drain; Destabilizing rent extraction and systemic risk; Geographical and market concentrations; Socio-spatial Stratification; and Political Capture.

Establishing a future research agenda around the finance curse theme and a network of researchers to carry out it, is one of the workshop’s central aims. The workshop will also consider the political potential of the concept as a narrative and campaigning resource that can change the debate about the task of financial governance.

The keynote speaker at the workshop is Gerald Epstein, renowned for his pioneering work on financialization. As well as an international multi-disciplinary cast of academics covering macroeconomics, management, sociology, geography, political science and political economy, participants include representatives from the Financial Times, Le Monde, the Bank of England, Oxfam, War on Want, and Global Justice Now.

The full workshop programme is available here.

10 November 2017 by
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New SPERI-IPPR literature reviews published

The Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) and the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) have today published a series of literature reviews, compiled to inform IPPR’s Commission on Economic Justice.

The reviews have been authored by SPERI research assistant Sean McDaniel and deputy director Craig Berry. The three published today focus on:

As well as reviewing the key academic and non-academic literatures, in each review McDaniel and Berry also use the evidence assembled to outline what a more progressive policy agenda in each of these areas could look like.

The reviews are available to download at: http://speri.dept.shef.ac.uk/publications/reports/

The IPPR Commission on Economic Justice is a landmark initiative to rethink economic policy for post-Brexit Britain. Launched in November 2016, the Commission brings together leading figures from across society – from business and trade unions, civil society organisations and academia – to examine the challenges facing the UK economy and make practical recommendations for reform.

The Commission is undertaking a wide-ranging programme of research and policy consultation on issues including industrial strategy, macroeconomic policy, taxation, work and labour markets, wealth and ownership, sub-national economic policy and technological change. Through a major programme of communications, events and stakeholder engagement it aims to contribute to both public debate and public policy on the economy.

The Commission’s Interim Report, Time for Change: A New Vision for the British Economy, was published in September 2017. Its Final Report will be published in autumn 2018. IPPR commissioned SPERI to conduct a series of literature reviews to inform the Final Report. Three further reviews – on macro-economic policy, economic metrics and local economies – will be published in early 2018.

6 November 2017 by
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The UK needs an ambitious industrial strategy | The Final Report of The Industrial Strategy Commission published today

The UK’s people, places and businesses will only achieve their potential if there is a complete overhaul of how the government views industrial strategy. This is a key message of the Final Report of the Industrial Strategy Commission which has been published today.

The Commission, a joint inquiry by SPERI and Policy@Manchester, was established to help to shape the development of a new, long-term industrial strategy for the UK. It launched in March 2017 and has been chaired by Dame Kate Barker. Dr Craig Berry, Deputy Director of SPERI, and Professor Richard Jones, SPERI Associate Fellow and Professor of Physics, are members of the Commission team. Tom Hunt, Policy Research Officer at SPERI, has managed the Commission’s work.

The Commission’s Final Report makes a series of recommendations for UK policymakers. It calls for industrial strategy to be rethought as a broad, long-term and non-partisan commitment to strategic management of the economy, and says the new industrial strategy must be an ambitious long-term plan with a positive vision for the UK.

Download the full Final Report
Download the Executive Summary

The Commission’s bold new recommendations include:

  • The new strategy should commit to providing Universal Basic Infrastructure. All citizens in all places should be served by a good standard of physical infrastructure and have access to high quality and universal health and education services.
  • Health and social care must be central to the new industrial strategy. As well as offering potential for productivity gains and new markets, achieving better outcomes for people’s wellbeing must be placed at the centre of the strategy.
  • The new strategy should be organised around meeting the long-term strategic goals of the state. These include decarbonisation of the economy, investing in infrastructure and increasing export capacity.
  • Innovation policy should focus on using the state’s purchasing power to create new markets and drive demand for innovation in areas such as healthcare and low carbon energy.
  • A new powerful industrial strategy division should be established in the Treasury to ensure the new strategy is driven from the centre and embedded across government.
  • A new independent expert body – The Office for Strategic Economic Management – should be created to monitor the new strategy. It should be created on the model of the Office for Budgetary Responsibility

Dr Craig Berry, Deputy Director of SPERI:

“Industrial strategy isn’t just about supporting a small number of sectors. It should focus on big strategic challenges like decarbonisation and population ageing – and ultimately it should aim to make material differences to people’s everyday lives. This will mean rethinking how government makes policies and chooses its investments.

 

“SPERI is proud to have established and jointly led the Commission along with our colleagues at the University of Manchester. The new industrial strategy is a significant opportunity to reshape how the UK economy functions. We look forward to engaging further with the government and other key policymakers to take forward the Commission’s work and recommendations.”

Dame Kate Barker, Chair of the Industrial Strategy Commission:

“The UK’s people, places and industries have great strengths and untapped potential, but we must accept the reality that the economy also contains many long-established weaknesses.

 

“Industrial strategy needs to be embraced as a long-term plan to manage the economy strategically and embedded throughout government. If we get the new strategy right it can build on these strengths, tackle our weaknesses and above all have a positive, long-lasting impact on people’s everyday lives. This implies that sometimes it will be right to choose equity and long-term-gains over short-term efficiency.”

The Commission will present its recommendations today (Wednesday 1 November) at a launch event, hosted and chaired by the Resolution Foundation. Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will make a keynote speech at the launch.

The Business Secretary has welcomed the Commission’s support for the new industrial strategy saying:

“Our modern industrial strategy has an ambitious long-term vision for the UK that will build on our strengths as a country and deliver a high-skilled economy for the years ahead. It is encouraging to see the Commission places equal value on an industrial strategy that boosts earning power, spreads prosperity and increases opportunities for all areas of the UK.

 

“We welcome the positive support for a new industrial strategy by the Commission and share its ambition. We will carefully consider their contribution to this important work.”

Find out more about the work of the Commission at industrialstrategycommission.org.uk

1 November 2017 by
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SPERI 2018 Conference: 2nd Call for Proposals

Political Economy Ten Years After the Crisis

Halifax Hall, University of Sheffield
2-4 July 2018

The SPERI Conference is becoming increasingly recognised as a key forum for debating major contemporary issues in political economy in new and challenging ways. It takes place in Halifax Hall in a leafy part of Sheffield and always attracts a range of leading scholars, doctoral students and practitioners with an interest in political economy.

Our 2018 conference, ‘Political Economy Ten Years After the Crisis’ will take place just a few weeks before the tenth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, an event which exemplified the early stages of the financial crisis. We invite you to submit proposals for a panel of 3-4 papers, or an individual paper, related to the following conference themes:

  • The unfolding impact of the crisis: the upheaval created by the 2008 crisis and subsequent recession, including Brexit and shifting global economic power; the long-term social and political consequences of the crisis; the capitalist economy’s legitimacy crisis.
  • Responses to crisis dynamics: moves towards ‘inclusive growth’ and the rediscovery of ‘industrial strategy’; the rise of populism on the left and the right; prospects for the renewal of global governance.
  • The political economy of the longue durée: the role of historical approaches in understanding contemporary capitalist development; the 2008 crisis as a historical ‘juncture’, comparable but distinct to previous crises; the ability of political economists to foresee future change, including a deepening of the present crisis.
  • The generational implications of crisis: differential impacts and understandings of crisis across people at different life-stages; the ‘normalisation’ of crisis imperatives in young people’s political imaginaries; apparent conflict between different age cohorts.
  • Institutional upheaval and continuity: the changing role of the state in relation to the capitalist economy; how institutions ‘absorb’ crisis dynamics; the emergence of a new post-crisis institutional framework for ‘managed capitalism’.

More generally, we would be interested in panel and paper proposals which address any of SPERI’s main research areas.

The opening plenary session of the conference will be addressed by Professor Adam Tooze, Professor of History at Columbia University and author of The Deluge: The Great War and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931. Professor Tooze will be speaking about his ongoing work on the history of the financial crisis. Other speakers already committed to address plenary sessions include: Helen Thompson (University of Cambridge), Richard Roberts (King’s College London), Michael Moran (University of Manchester), Ann Pettifor (PRIME Economics) and Torsten Bell (Resolution Foundation). More plenary speakers will be announced in due course.

The conference will take place at Halifax Hall, Sheffield, from 2nd-4th July 2018. More information about the conference can be found on the SPERI conference website.

Please submit your panel or paper proposal(s) to the conference administrator by emailing speri@sheffield.ac.uk by no later than Monday 18th December 2017. Please also feel free to discuss your ideas in advance with any of the conference convenors.

Colin Hay, Craig Berry and Adam Leaver

26 October 2017 by
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